Weblinx, Incorporated

Library Web Design

Libraries are special places. They allow us to gather, learn, and even absorb centuries of knowledge in one place. Who knows how many books have been written, and movements have been launched, among stacks of books and digital records?

The fact that libraries are special and unique means that library website design requires a different degree of thought and skill. To get it right you can’t simply choose a layout from a template and fill in a few pages – you have to create something that makes the facility (and collections inside) more accessible to the people who need it most.

In our many years of web development, we have had the opportunity to build hundreds of engaging and organized public library websites. We will help you grow and maintain the relationship with your community. Call us at 630-551-0334 x1 to discuss your web design and digital marketing goals.

Our Public Library Work

  • Library Website

    Crystal Lake Public Library

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    The Crystal Lake Library offers free Internet access and WiFi and hosts programs for patrons.

    Features: Responsive Web Design, WordPress CMS, Events Calendar, Library Website

  • Library Website

    Messenger Public Library

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    The Messenger Public Library seeks to inform, connect, and enrich the surrounding North Aurora community.

    Features: Responsive Web Design, ADA, Translation, WordPress CMS, Library Website

  • Itasca Library

    Itasca Community Library

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    Enjoy opportunities in education, lifelong learning, and recreation in a welcoming, friendly environment.

    Features: Professional Web Design, WordPress CMS, Calendar

  • Library District Website Design

    Villa Park Public Library

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    The Villa Park Public Library is a vital part of the community. They offer physical materials and electronic materials, as well as public computers with internet access, printers, and copiers.

    Features: Responsive Web Design, Library Website

  • Library Website Design

    Plainfield Public Library

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    The Plainfield Public Library ur Library provides an environment to meet and interact with others in the community, address the needs of people, and participate in public discourse about community issues.

    Features: Responsive Web Design, WordPress CMS

  • Library Web Design

    Sugar Grove Library

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    The Sugar Grove Library is a unique resource to offer open access to information that fosters a passion for reading, learning, and the exchange of ideas.

    Features: Responsive Web Design, Drupal CMS

  • Library Web Design

    Orange City Public Library

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    The public library that serves the vibrant community and residents of Orange City, IA.

    Features: Responsive Web Design, WordPress

  • Library Websites

    Marshalltown Public Library

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    Marshalltown Public Library exists to provide residents with materials and services that meet their needs for recreation, information, education, and cultural awareness.

    Features: Logo Design, Responsive Web Design, Spanish Translation, WordPress CMS, Branding

The Best Library Websites

What will you want your library’s website to do? What will its main function be?

The answers to these questions will depend largely on the size of your library, the groups it serves, and where it’s located. The law library at a major urban university is going to have much different needs than a community library in a rural area. But both are vital to students, readers, and staff who interact with it regularly.

It’s important at the outset of any web design project, and especially one for a library, to determine what the goals are. For instance, some of the things you might want to accomplish with your library website design include:

  • Bringing offline collections to a wider audience
  • Making it easier to find and check out specific materials
  • Increasing community engagement with live events
  • Attracting donors and volunteers to the library
  • Spreading awareness about hours and accessibility

You might want to accomplish several of these things, or have different goals altogether. What matters is that you and your design team know which outcomes matter to you from the outset of the project. That way every subsequent action and decision can be tailored to that result.

Usability Should Be Priority Number One

Web accessibility and usability are huge topics within our industry at the moment. But they aren’t just buzzwords or fads – they represent a pair of realizations that are changing the way we build sites for any group or organization.

The first of these realizations is that having a website that’s easy to use and navigate is even more important than getting the aesthetics right. In other words, your website should definitely look good, but you shouldn’t sacrifice simple navigation and search bars to make a certain kind of aesthetic work. You’ll just end up confusing or frustrating your visitors.

That’s good advice for any group, but especially important to those who are planning a library website design. That’s because the typical library website is going to have lots of different pages and topics and needs to serve several different audiences. All of them will want to find information that is relevant to them very quickly, and without too many clicks or searches.

The second big trend that’s changing institutional web design is a focus on accessibility. In essence, this refers to a growing awareness that a website – and especially one that is directed toward the public – should be usable to those with sight or hearing impairments. There may also be accommodations that can be made for those with certain learning disabilities.

We won’t go into the technical aspects of web accessibility here. Instead, we will simply say that they should be a big priority in your library website design. Work with a creative partner that can help you take your content and make it easy for everyone to use. The result won’t just be a more popular library website, but also a resource that can be enjoyed by the entire community you serve.

Promote Your Library’s Resources Online

If your library has special collections or areas of focus, you might want to share them with the world through your website. This can be accomplished through photos, digital copies, or even online video tours.

Naturally, it takes a bit of time, effort, and expense to digitize items and then host them over the internet. However, doing so one time could bring untold value to current and future generations. In the past, libraries have shared old manuscripts, local periodicals, historical documents, and even works by up-and-coming students or artists.

In some cases you might want to post these materials because they have cultural or educational value. However, you could also share materials (with consent, of course) that come from specific events or competitions. For example, suppose your library had an essay writing contest. Would the winner enjoy having their work posted on your website, along with a photo?

Also, don’t forget that resources don’t have to be collections of books or files. You could have meeting rooms or even on-staff experts who are available to the public. If that’s the case then you could promote them through your web presence, or at least allow members of the public to reserve rooms and timeslots.

No two libraries are the same and you probably have something special that more people should know about. Help spread the word, and bring more foot traffic into your library, by adding the relevant content about these resources to your website.

Encourage Community Involvement

While most of our advice to this point has centered on the things you can do to support your community of readers and learners, we shouldn’t forget that you can also use your online presence to bring some of that support back. In other words, you can focus some of your library web design on attracting volunteers, donations, or even attendees for live events.

Many of the libraries we work with depend on community interaction and involvement for much of their budget, schedule, and programming. If you do as well, or would simply like to take advantage of these opportunities, then it should be a focus of your web development project.

Your library’s website is likely to receive more visits than your building or staff. That means it can help you recruit donors and volunteers more effectively (at least by the numbers) than your team can. It can also serve dozens or hundreds of people at once without being distracted or splitting its attention.

You can make the most of this information by posting online appeals to those who would like to help. You might be surprised at how many people would give some of their time, write a small check, or bring in valuable materials if they only knew what your library needed.

If you haven’t had a large base of community support in the past, consider adding the appropriate content to your library website while also promoting more events. It’s often the case that people decide to get involved only after they have seen what your library does for the community.

Consider Using Advanced Tools and Programming

Custom web programming probably isn’t the first thing you would think of when imagining a library website design. And to be fair, it’s not something that is always (or often) needed for these types of projects. However, we need to mention it because there could be ways you could increase the value of your website with a few specific tools or tweaks.

Whether it’s through prebuilt plugins or programming started from scratch, you might be able to use some bits of code and software to add more functionality to the library website. For instance, you could integrate tools that allow users to reserve books or collections, schedule rooms, pay late fees, donate online, and so much more.

The apps needed to fulfill these kinds of functions are easy to find. However, it is important that they be installed and configured correctly. Otherwise your library website design could end up being slow or unstable, or even have security issues. Just as you don’t want to sacrifice usability for aesthetics, neither should you install anything on your pages that will affect performance or make user data vulnerable.

Because of the complexities involved in web development (i.e., programming), it’s a good idea to work with an experienced team that understands the ins and outs of library website design. They can not only guide you through the technical aspects of the project, but also ensure that the entire process is finished on time and under budget.

Have Questions About Library Website Design?

Library web design is a big topic. We’ve scratched the surface on this page, but if you want to go deeper – or ask questions about your web development project – the team at Weblinx is here to help.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about our work for libraries across the country.

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